Skip to main content

Sea Defences, Suffolk And Norfolk

Volume 655: debated on Thursday 8 March 1962

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is satisfied that the sea defences in Suffolk and Norfolk are strong enough to withstand a flood like that which recently hit Germany; and if he will make a statement.

The sea defences in Suffolk and Norfolk have almost entirely been brought up to the standards recommended by the Waverley Committee, which reported after the coastal floods of 1953.

A report on the recent disaster in Hamburg, prepared after consultation with the German authorities, will be considered by the Ministry's Advisory Committee on Oceanographic and Meteorological Research. We have other steps in mind, including a visit to Hamburg by drainage experts, to make sure that we learn all the lessons we can from this disaster.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware that it is reported that the surge of flood water was 5 ft. higher in Hamburg than in 1953 on the Suffolk coast? Is he aware, further, that one of my constituents has twice had his land flooded in the last year and that only last night there was a breach in the sea wall in North Essex? Is he satisfied that these walls are up to the right standard?

I never said I was satisfied because that would be a rash statement to make in regard to sea defences. I did say that we had done a great deal of work in this country since 1953 to improve coastal defences, and we intend to learn all the lessons we can from what has recently happened.

Will my hon. Friend say not only whether the defences are strong enough but whether they are high enough? The Waverley standards were arrived at a long time ago. In view of recent incidents abroad, would not it be a good thing if the standard height for sea defences were reviewed again now?

These things are constantly under review. My answer was intended to cover both height and strength. The Waverley Committee was considering what one might take as the worst case.

As there was a breach in the sea walls in my constituency, this morning, Mr. Speaker, may I be allowed to ask a supplementary question?

I am sorry, but we are making very bad progress with Questions, and there are quite a lot of breaches in sea walls in the constituencies of other hon. Members.